skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albany Hancock   30 March [1853]

Down Farnborough Kent

March 30th

My dear Sir

I am much obliged for your note received this morning, with as full answers as you could send to my queries, & for a former note received some time since with excellent remarks on the classification of Alcippe.1 I have been very troublesome, but shall cause no more; & am truly obliged for all you have for me. If in your power, I am sure you will kindly in course of summer get me a few specimens for the British Museum & for distribution.—

I yet have a few specimens of other cirripedes of yours, in my possession.—

I have now finally finished with my S. American boring cirripede; & this has utterly confounded my previous confusion how to rank Alcippe & it; for they present some most remarkable similarity, for instance they are both bisexual, with the males remarkably alike.—& yet in what I must consider their fundamental organisation, & in their metamorphosis, they are so totally unlike that I cannot place them in the same order!2

My classification does not satisfy myself, nor, I fear, you if you ever look to my volume on this point.

Pray believe me | My dear Sir | Yours truly obliged | Ch. Darwin

The bosses on the cirri of Alcippe are hardish or crustaceous, they are all four opposed to each other & the little ridges on them are crenated; these facts made me suspect that their use was not for simple prehension, but for triturating the food;3 & now I find in my analogous S. American burrower, & in no other cirripede that the œsophagus is provided with the most beautiful discs set with teeth, & brushes of hairs, worked by muscles, certainly for triturating food; which strengthens my notion.—4


For the South American boring cirripede, Cryptophialus minutus, CD felt compelled to create a new order, Abdominalia (Living Cirripedia (1854): 563–6). Alcippe lampas was classified as a genus of the Lepadidae. See letter to Albany Hancock, 10 February [1853], n. 3. In modern classifications of the Cirripedia, Alcippe (Trypetesa lampas) and Cryptophialus are placed in the same order, Acrothoracica, but in separate sub-orders through having an incomplete or complete gut, respectively.
See Living Cirripedia (1854): 543–4. The ‘bosses’ are there called ‘protruberant buttons or cushions’.


Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.


Thanks AH for assistance. Compares Alcippe to South American boring cirripedes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albany Hancock
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1509,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5